Please join us for a New Year's Eve Community Prayer Service.
December 31st, 2103 at Epikos Church in Bend, Oregon.
Who's invited? Everyone is invited to join us. This is an excellent opportunity to gather and pray with other Christians in our local community.
Bring in the New Year seeking God's will and blessing for Bend, OR in 2014.
Mark 11:24 ESV Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Philippians 4:6-7 ESV Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
James 5:16 ESV Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.
1 John 3:22 ESV And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him.
John 15:7 ESV If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
1 John 5:14-15 ESV And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.
John 14:13-14 ESV Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.
Jeremiah 29:11-14 ESV For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you, declares the Lord, and I will restore your fortunes and gather you from all the nations and all the places where I have driven you, declares the Lord, and I will bring you back to the place from which I sent you into exile.
1 John 5:14 ESV And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
Ephesians 6:18 ESV Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,
This Christmas I find myself swinging. On a pendulum. Back and forth. Satisfied and hungry. At moments grateful and at others so desperate that I don’t recognize myself.
Two minutes ago, I walked downstairs, at 11 pm at night and stuffed a day-old doughnut in my mouth. Was I hungry? No. Do I usually eat doughnuts? No. They were leftover from my four year olds birthday. Doughnuts are a treat around here, the once in a long while kind of treat.
But my heart was yearning. Hungry.
I have a devoted, loving, tender-eyed husband.
I have four gorgeous, talented, and kind children. (Notice I did not say perfect. Because that would be a bold faced lie!)
I have a roof over my head. I have money to spare. I have everything I need and more. I live in this gorgeous setting. I have family close by. I am healthy. I am a wealthy woman.
What's Missing This Christmas?
What is this strange pendulum I swing on?
It’s that I live in this world, but I was made for a different one.
All the health, wealth, relationship, and success in this world will not satisfy the one ache that screams loudest this time of year.
I was made to be in relationship with the trinity who set the stars in the sky, created my every cell, and sings over me this very minute.
And this world does everything and more to pull me from that reality.
The T.V. blares with non-stop noise and false advertising.
The radio is on in my car every time I get in, clogging my ears and my heart.
My friends talk about things that don’t really matter but just add to my noise.
My work tells me if I succeed in this plan or meet that goal, all success will be mine and I will be filled.
My spouse tells me if I wear more Victoria’s Secret and keep a cleaner house, relational bliss will be mine.
The school tells me if I invest every hour of free time into volunteering, I will be a great parent and my children will thrive.
My fitness center tells me this new workout will provide the body I need and then happiness will be mine.
And these things are all lies.
It is good to have relational harmony. It is good to have physical fitness. It is good to support our schools and our children. It is good to be successful at our occupations.
But it is not good to assume all these things will answer the insistent cries of our hearts. The cry for connection.
And not just connection with people, though that is very good.
Because people will inevitably let you down.
Think about it. Have you ever had a relationship that did not in any way disappoint you?
We were created to be in constant harmony with the trinity that created the universe.
God. A Father so good that our version of father cannot accurately give vision to the way we are loved by God. He is waiting to expand that vision with himself.
Jesus Christ. The friend your heart has longed for all your life; someone who knows every detail of you and absolutely, unquestionably adores you even on your very worst day.
The Holy Spirit. A mentor and guide with unsearchable wisdom and a tender and constant nearness.
Finding Hope This Christmas in Bend, Oregon
So this holiday, when you are still for but a moment, and you recognize that great cavernous place in your heart...know you are not crazy. You were meant for a relationship so much bigger than this world can offer that your soul is restless in it’s search.
There is hope.
And he is a person.
There is a place is his heart with your name on it that will never be filled by another. It will feel like home and hope at the same time.
Glance his way. Allow him to show you who he is. You will never be the same.
Someone to Walk With
If you live in Bend, Oregon and would like to talk more about finding hope through Jesus, please let us know. We, at Epikos Church, would love to meet you.
By: Chrisy Osterkamp
Where Did Santa Come from Anyway?
So where in the world did Santa come from, anyway? I learned about him when my daughters and I took a trip to Colorado, where there is a theme park called North Pole, Colorado, a Christmas themed park near Pike’s Peak. It is a beautiful park full of all the sights, sounds and wonders of Christmas, and among all the attractions is a beautiful little chapel housing a large plaque which tells the wonderful story of how Santa Claus came to be. Nicholas was born around AD 270 in Patara, Lycia, Asia Minor, to Christian parents. His mother and father, Theophanes and Nonna, vowed to dedicate their son to God, after a lengthy time of childlessness.
The Life and Times of The Real Santa Claus
Nicholas’s sainthood was not “bestowed” upon him by the Catholic church, but by popular opinion of generations of people of many nations, Nicholas became known as a saint. The very definition of “saint” describes Nicholas perfectly: “A person who lived a life devoted to God; a worthy example of holiness, virtue, or kindness and charity; someone who lets God's love shine through them to the world.”
A Controversial Figure?
Nicholas was appointed a bishop around the year AD 300, (interestingly the same age as Jesus when He began His earthly ministry). Bishop Nicholas strove to do good deeds in secret (which eventually evolved into coming in the middle of the night down our chimneys, only while we were sleeping, lest we receive lumps of coal instead). Many witnesses claim Bishop Nicholas reportedly performed many miracles such as calming the waves of the sea, healing people, and driving out demons. If you think that these reports sound like a false Messiah, remember the words of Jesus in John 14:12, when He tells His disciples, “ Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
His Love for Children
Being orphaned as a child, Bishop Nicholas had a burning love for children, and it is said that he would toss little pouches of coins through the windows of the homes of poor children, and sometimes the pouches would land in the stockings that were washed and hung on the windowsill to dry. When finding all the windows of the house shut, he would toss the pouch up onto the roof, where it went down the chimney.
Was Santa Claus a Real Person? What Every Kid Should Know this Christmas
I have heard concerned young parents question all the commercialism, the materialism, and the symbols of Christmas that seem to have nothing whatsoever to do with the celebration of Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, and the Savior of the world.
However, be of good cheer! The round, jolly, generous man in the red suit may have gone through many transformations over the centuries, but my children and I shared traditions about the real man who grew to be the legendary Santa Claus. We enjoy the stories which evolved over the years, including leaving milk and cookies out for Santa so he would have something to eat after struggling to get down our chimney with all our presents. My mother did a wonderful job of sharing the Christmas spirit with my brothers and me by leaving something out unwrapped that we never saw until Christmas morning, presumably from Santa. I confess that even now my children are grown I cannot resist the temptation to label at least one of their gifts not from me, but from Santa. I do not begrudge any child the joy and wonder of dreaming about Santa and all the good and wonderful things he represents. So as we should all remember the reason for the season, and to keep Christ in Christmas, I submit that for my family and me, we say Santa Claus, AKA St. Nicholas, dedicated every aspect of his life to God’s service, and pointed nations and generations to Christ through his example, and will deserve a place in our home and our traditions. Merry Christmas!!!
If you have other questions about St. Nicholas or about the birth of Jesus, we invite you to fill out the contact form and talk with one of the Pastors of Epikos Church in Bend, Oregon.
Contributed by Jenna Bertels
“When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted and prayed to the God of heaven.” - Neh. 1:4
“With a prayer to the God of heaven, I replied...” -Neh. 2:4
“Then I prayed, “ Hear us God, for we are being mocked...” - Neh. 4:4
There is a secret weapon that is more powerful than a nuclear bomb. (But with positive effects) What if we all had the ability to utilize this secret weapon? It can be used to bless, to protect, and give honor to the one person who deserves it the most. This weapon is prayer. Nehemiah was in on the secret. He knew that at every moment - whether good or bad - he needed to pray. Through his prayers you can see the evidence of his dependence on God. He understood something very important, which came from his very heart of faith --- that God works through prayer. Imagine that, God actually hears us and responds! He has a reputation of being faithful - so it doesn’t bother Him to hear our requests and to answer them (of course if it’s according to His will).
Nehemiah believed at the core of his heart that God was able to do the impossible! I think what it all comes down to in the end, is trust. God allows us to be in situations so we can show Him we trust Him. And when we pray we are showing God we trust that He can take care of us. God wants nothing more than to be trusted by us - with that He can build a relationship with us. Without trust, there is no relationship to be had.
Trusting Him is more than just saying it, it’s an action. He’s going to put it to the test! In dealing with daily and big life issues, we are confronted with two options: option one, we can handle things on our own, to the best of our human strength and wisdom, or two, we can step back, pray, and trust God to handle things - believing that he has all wisdom and knows our lives inside and out. It’s just a fact - He knows best. Sometimes He can’t move until we move - move our ideas, thoughts, plans out of the way. Not that He doesn’t appreciate our thoughts, but that His plans are better than ours. He out-thinks us, even our most creative, well-thought out plans.
Recently, God had challenged me with the thoughts of how much do I really trust him? My husband and I just moved into our new place, (by the grace of God!), and it did not seem to come with a washer and dryer. My first thought - was, yes I should freak out, because we just don’t have the money! What are we going to do? Should I sell my kidney? This was not God’s plan, Then, I prayed to the God of heaven. I prayed and asked him to provide it for us, knowing that life can go on with out these items I chose not to worry about it. I would tell others, yes I prayed and am waiting on the Lord. Soon after, I receive a phone call from my parents, saying, “We want to buy you a house warming present, what do you want?” I proceeded to get really giddy and happy, thinking to myself, “Man, God really cares about me, about me needs.” All I needed to do was to ask and trust he was going to do it!
We have opportunities to grow in trusting Him daily, are we going to step back and allow Him to move? You will be surprised by the ways He cares for you, and by His intense desire to be our provider. Just sit back and watch How awesome He is!
"I bow before your holy Temple as I worship. I praise your name for you unfailing love and faithfulness; for your promises are backed by all the honor of your name. As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength...
The LORD will work out his plans for my life - for your faithful love, O LORD endures forever. Don’t abandon me, for you made me.”
-Psalm 138:2, 3, and 8
Contributed by, Epikos Community Member, Brett Nelson
TAKE COURAGE, I AM HERE
Jesus insisted that his disciples get back in the boat, and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home.
It's a funny thing, the idea of being away from God. I mean He is omnipresent right?! So how is it that at times He can seem galaxies away? Is it only our sins that seem to separate us from Him, or perhaps are there times where He wants to seem distant from us, see how we'll react on our own.
I love those times in life where God is so close, so present! He is my every thought, He is my every desire, He is near and I know it. I want to box those times up, I want them to be what life is forever, but the truth is there are times where He is going to say, "Hey you get back on the boat, go to the other side I have to finish up some business, I'll catch up with you."
Well. It was one of those times. And as it usually ends up for me, it wasn't pretty. I was in the boat, I was just trying to get to the other side. God soon felt so distant. The winds started picking up. The storm just escalated. The waves started hitting the side of the boat, even flowing up over into it. "God where are you??"
And you know things were really ugly because it was three o' clock in the morning, and not a one of them was asleep....
I know the feeling. Things were beginning to suffocate me, life was small, I thought of nothing but my boat being flopped around like a piece of wood. I thought of nothing but being stuck in that moment, thinking it was the end. It was me, and a boat, and a storm that had no mercy, and worst of all, God was nowhere to be found.
And here they found themselves at three in the morning, sleep deprived, afraid for their lives, and now something comes walking up to them on the water..... Are they hallucinating? It was easier to believe that it was a ghost, than that it was Jesus!
And it was right at this moment. In their fear, in their pain, in their hopelessness, on the brink of giving up, Jesus says, "Don't be afraid, Take courage, I am here!"
What incredible words.
God seemed far away. Hope was gone. Fear was about to completely take its toll, all to be washed away in an instant, and by one sentence: Take courage, I am here!
And now my favorite part!
Peter yells out through the storm, "Lord if it's really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water!"
What a picture, what a moment. Peter, looking out at this man, walking on water. This man that clearly stated he is Jesus! "if it's really you." What was this desire in Peter? I doubt it even crossed anyone else's mind! Not one other person on that boat, was thinking, "Yeah, if it's really you tell us to come out in the storm, and do something impossible!" I want to get ahold of that desire! It wasn't doubting God. It was a desire to experience Him in every possible way!! If Jesus walks on water... than I could..... if He tells me to.
That's where I was. Overwhelmed. And then like a ghost, like a shadow God showed up, and revealed Himself miraculous, revealed himself uninhibited to the laws of nature. I saw myself like Peter, "God, if it's really you, ask me to do something impossible, so I know the only way it could happen is you! Ask me to go on an adventure, that I would never have even thought possible, but it will be possible, because you are there, and you asked me to."
In that moment, all Peter saw was God! "Yes, Come!" that was Jesus's response. That was all Peter needed! Oh man, it was on, he was going to walk on water. He didn't think about it, there was no standard to follow, no guidelines on how to go about this, it was him and Jesus. I can picture him placing his feet over the side of the boat, sitting on the edge for a second with his feet dangling, and then fixing his eyes on Jesus and starting out on his incredible adventure, that only he has ever experienced!
That is where I am. God showed up. I was in the midst of the worst storm of my life, and God showed up. An adventure was looming. God if this really is you, then tell me to go to Bend. Tell me to do something I've never done before. Tell me to step out of this boat, step away from everything I've ever known and let me experience life as I have never known it, because I know I can, because I know you are there, and my eyes are fixed on you alone.
And this is a chance to learn from my wise mentor and predecessor in the faith:
But when Peter saw the strong wind and waves, he was terrified and began to sink.
Something very interesting happened. The waves were always there. They hadn't gone away. The wind hadn't died down. It was as bad as ever. That didn't matter to Peter, because it was Jesus, and that was all that mattered. With Jesus anything was possible, he had come to acquire this knowledge over time of walking with Him. But then, as he was walking, as he was doing the impossible, a different knowledge hit him...... the wind, a wave probably smashed right into him, it wasn't easy, it wan't pretty, it was a fierce ocean. This wasn't how he envisioned it. The reality of the situation had hit home. The knowledge that this was not supposed to be happening.
Knowledge is all around us. We grow in our knowledge of God. But we have our own knowledge too, and they usually don't align. Faith does not align with our earthly knowledge! When our eyes are fixed on Jesus, faith is alive, and we find the laws of the knowledge we and everyone around us have grown up with is completely insignificant!! But, it shifted in a second, just one splash of a wave, and Peter's eyes weren't on Jesus anymore, they were on the reality of waves and wind and a storm and the fact that he was standing in the middle of the water, and that was not how life was supposed to be. He began to sink!
We can't have two things in our mind. We either have our eyes fixed on God, and our hearts ready for whatever adventure He has for us, or we fix our minds on reality as we have always known it, which usually ends in us screaming out in a desperate cry, "Save me, Lord!!" And it was just a moment of doubt. It was just a moment where the knowledge he'd gathered his whole life, took over the knowledge he had come to know of Jesus, that nothing was impossible, that as long as He was there, he didn't have to be afraid, he could take courage, he could do anything.... even walk on water.
That is where I am, I took a step out of the boat. The waves are very real. The wind is picking up. But I can't fix my mind on that. I can't take my eyes off Jesus, because I don't care how things look, or what my human way of thinking would tell me to believe, all I know is that I only hear one sentence echoing through my mind......
"Don't be afraid. Take courage, I am Here!"
Epikos Community Blog
Welcome to the Epikos Community Blog where you can find and read blog posts from members of Epikos Church in Bend, OR. At Epikos we believe in the value of every member and this is a place for members to share about the work God is doing in their lives.